Green Jobs at What Cost?

Wind energy is creating jobs, but not enough long-term ones. (Photo: David Schott [CC by 2.0]/Flickr)

While many people chant the green jobs mantra, others look at the not so glitzy side of things. Earlier this month, I discussed a new report called 7 Myths About Green Jobs. One of the myths, number four, was that green jobs promote employment growth. On Friday, an article was published on Bloomberg that looks at this possible down side to this push for green jobs — a higher unemployment rate.

The Bloomberg article looks at Spain’s been-there done-that experience; “For every new position that depends on energy price supports, at least 2.2 jobs in other industries will disappear, according to a study from King Juan Carlos University in Madrid. “ Source: Bloomberg

Clean energy does cost more and although many people will argue that the increased cost is worth the environmental benefits, some companies still see only the bottom line. Spain has not only seen a loss in jobs directly related to the energy price supports, but indirectly as companies have moved out of the country in search of cheaper energy costs.

Despite this possible outlook, loggers in the Pacific Northwest are putting a positive spin on the green jobs movement. Now some one-time loggers are going to work replanting forests.

In his New York Times article, Loggers Try to Adapt to Greener Economy, William Yardley highlights one long-time logger (now retired) who has a 125-acre Certified Family Forest.

“There’s been recognition in the last several years that we need the industry to carry out the restoration work we want accomplished,” said Jonathan Oppenheimer, a senior conservation associate for the Idaho Conservation League, which is negotiating with loggers and others with the goal of getting Congress to preserve parts of the Clearwater National Forest as wilderness. Source: New York Times

Although Spain saw companies leave the country and a negative overall impact on jobs, the country’s unemployment woes started well before their push to fund renewable energy projects. The United States is in the middle of an economic crisis but steps need to be taken to ensure that we don’t continue down the road to an environmental crisis as well. This is one question that is going to have to be answered with time.